Friday, April 23, 2010

Obliging observance...

Enjoy St. George's Day, celebrate it even though we do not know much about St. George. We do know that there has been a resurgence and rebirth of our Patron Saint as a cultural entity and identity most probably due to actual and perceived attempts to ignore, sideline or belittle England and the English.

So what to do? What to believe about this "not even English" soldier when even more than 1500 years ago details was vague: Pope Gelasius in 496 stated that George was among those saints "whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose actions are known only to God" (presumably referring to the legend of St. George and the Dragon). Yet he is venerated in many Christian denominations and numerous cities, regions and countries, which is quite extraordinary considering, as previous mentioned, and as Gelasius' quote reveals, next to nothing is known about him for certain. Borrowing heavily from GodzDogz we can examine what he was renowned for: martyrdom, which isn't simply dying for what you believe in...

"Martyrdom is now an ambiguous and misunderstood phenomenon. If it simply means 'dying for what you believe', what makes that laudable and holy? It is certainly not laudable and holy if such a demise inflicts suffering and death on others, or if it is a deliberate taking of one’s own life removed from the context of threat and persecution in faith."

George, in the face of temptation (offered excessive wealth to renounce his belief) darkness, persecution, extended and brutal torture, chose death rather than do what was not right (he also gave away all his possessions to the poor when he realised what his final fate would be).

The first known mention of St George in England was by Bede in the 8th Century, and as mentioned in the 9th Century in Alfred the Great's will: "Saint George and his feast day began to gain more widespread fame among all Europeans, however, from the time of the Crusades".

"As a soldier he would have known battle, faced the possibility of death. This is not the issue. His submissive, passionate action, defying soldier’s orders, maintained compassion in the face of tyranny and justice at the risk of dishonour and treason. This is the example that so many have found in our patron saint, that sudden rush of love that falls on those born again in the Spirit, that at the last, changes one’s life."

So why is this Roman soldier - of what today would be Turkish and Palestinian descent - defining my country’s soul, why is George patron of England? Not because he defines who England is, but because he exemplifies what we should be: charitable, tolerant, brave, compassionate, honourable, Christian.

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bonnie said...


Span Ows said...

Hi Bonnie! Cheers to you to. I have had a good day all in all...doing nothing (well, wasting time)


Paul said...

"but because he exemplifies what we should be: charitable, tolerant, brave, compassionate, honourable, Christian."

Well I agree with the first five but the sixth one, I'll pass on that. By the way, in the absence of definitive proof that God exists how can insurance companies wriggle out of paying out over "Acts of God."

Span Ows said...

No surprise in that answer Paul! To be honest I expected it and nearly didn't write it but though I had better (it was part of the GodzDogz blog that I had used a lot of...if I need to explain it then I say I do not believe in God but I do try to abide by what JC was trying to get people to do, . And I don't mean be a jumped-up carpenter's son who thinks he's born to rule, born out of wedlock, an illegal immigrant as an infant, a known associate of prostitutes...(with tahnks to Michael Gove)

...of course Christains aren't 'Christian' at all

Paul said...

"To be honest I expected it and nearly didn't write it but though I had better"

A writer told me years ago that you should always go with what you feel, providing it doesn't caused legal problems. You can always recant at your leisure although that didn't help Thomas Cranmer much.

Span Ows said...

hahaha! Yes...and a few more along the way!

Span Ows said...

and as a very late afterthought: I'v ejust noticed I wrote "...of course Christains aren't 'Christian' at all

which is both disgraceful and wrong generalisation...I meant "MANY Christians aren't..."

And also I didn't remark on your very interetsing "Acts of God" Insurance thing, I wonder has anyone tried such a defence, or whether the small print covers what they really mean.